Hollister schools have increasing class sizes
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The Hollister School District’s request for a class-size waiver and  extension of a contract for an optional fiscal adviser – who acts as  a five-figure “final set of eyes” – underscore a cultural acceptance  of fiscal irresponsibility.

It is no secret the Hollister district has experienced serious  financial tumult in recent years – culminating in late 2010 when it  earned a negative certification from the state, which required an administrator to sign off on major budget decisions. Now, with the  requirement off the table, the district has extended the contract of  that now-voluntary fiscal adviser who makes $200 an hour and comes in  on a weekly basis.

The district has contracted Maureen Evans, vice president of School  Services of California, since fall 2010. While the San Benito County  Office of Education pays 75 percent of her compensation in the deal,  the Hollister district pays 25 percent.

The school board this month renewed her contract through May 31. It  calls for her lucrative hourly fee plus an array of expenses. Last  year, the district paid her more than $49,000. To date this school  year, it has paid her more than $21,000, said Jack Bachofer, the  school district’s chief business official, in an article readers can  view at SanBenitoCountyToday.com.

Bachofer in that interview referred to the adviser as a “final set of  eyes” who “makes sure we don’t do things we’re not supposed to do and  would jeopardize our financial situation.”

She sounds more like an overpaid baby-sitter than anything.

Incidentally, it is Bachofer who should maintain the responsibility  bestowed on the hired fiscal adviser. The former math teacher turned  business official – Bachofer made the switch in 2005 – is paid a  salary of up to $117,000, according to the latest state data from  2010-11, because he is supposed to maintain the necessary expertise  and business savvy to coordinate responsible budgets. Additionally,  Bachofer has been the finance director during this ongoing tidal wave  of deficits that will only continue if the district keeps  disregarding unnecessary administrative overhead.

This is an example of why the district has experienced such  difficulty trimming costs and shifting fewer dollars away from  classrooms – which will cap out at an average size of 35 students  under the waiver requested from the state for the 2012-13 school  year. This is why the district has been walking on shaky ground for  several years. Simply put, the Hollister School District is paying a  six-figure salary and benefits toward a role that drives the  financial train – and yet, local taxpayers must pay another $49,000 to make sure  the chief business official isn’t screwing things up.

Something is wrong about this dynamic, but it should help explain the  rut from which the district is trying to climb.

Either he is a qualified finance director or he is not. The clearly  lacking self-confidence from Bachofer – and coinciding distrust from trustees – certainly suggests the latter.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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